The Manipur government on Wednesday urged the Union home ministry to suspend the border fencing project on the disputed areas with Myanmar as protests erupted in state capital of Imphal against the construction.

The state’s Special Secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash wrote a letter to the Centre saying that civil society organisation United Committee Manipur has vehemently opposed the construction of the border fence between pillars 81 and 82.

The organisation, Prakash wrote, is against the fencing work on “the allegation that some of the border pillars, especially BP 81 and BP 82 are shifted by a large distance on the Indian side from the actual international border”.

A fact-finding team of the United Committee Manipur had found that the fencing project would take away between one to three kilometers of the state’s land, The Hindu reported. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has insisted that the fencing work was imperative to stop smuggling of drugs, fertilisers and other contraband items.

In his letter, Prakash asked the Centre to send a team of home ministry and Survey of India officials to hold “a thorough discussion regarding position of the disputed border points”, adding that fencing can continue in other areas.

“The law and order situation of the state may worsen in the coming days due to opposition against the ongoing border fencing work by the BRO [Border Roads Organisation], the ministry is requested to kindly consider directing the BRO to suspend the border fencing work where the position of border pillar is disputed especially between BP 81 and BP 82 until the dispute is resolved through dialogue,” he wrote.

The United Committee Manipur held protests near Kangla Fort in Imphal on Wednesday. Prakash told the home ministry that the police had to use tear-gas shells to disperse the protestors.

“The UCM has also announced to continue agitation on 23.06.2022 in various parts of the state and has even threatened to recruit suicidal teams in the process,” the official added.